At Dusk in the Jungle by Anthony Esolen


At Dusk in the Jungle

A Deadly Culture Needs More than Legal Remedies
by Anthony Esolen

A few days ago in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a teenage girl was taken off life support. She had hanged herself, driven to it by two years of humiliation at the hands of the worthy young people in that wealthy and progressive city.

The facts in the case are hard to determine, because the event that brought on the suicide was not fully investigated by the police. The girl—I will call her Jane Smith—was at a party at a friend's house. It wasn't a party at which you play Frankie Avalon records and dance and eat ice cream and talk about the baseball team. It was a party at which you get yourself blind drunk, or stoned on pot, and do disgraceful things in public in a state of undress. That's what Jane did, and it was not a new thing in her life. According to testimony accepted by both the Crown—which is now prosecuting two of the four boys accused of rape—and the defendants, there were at least a half-dozen young teenagers at the party having sexual intercourse.

Jane's friend told police at the time that she had tried to get Jane to leave, but she wouldn't. She had already had intercourse with two boys, and she was thoroughly drunk. The friend left the party and returned with her mother, and still they could not persuade Jane to leave. Then they gave up. But the boys didn't. Sometime later that night, while Jane was vomiting out of the window, one of the boys took a picture of another boy penetrating her from behind, and posted it on "social" media.

When Jane learned about the photo, she went to the police and claimed she had been raped. The police determined there wasn't sufficient evidence for prosecution. Girls at her school turned against her and called her a slut. Boys texted her and subjected her to obscene taunts and proposals. She left the city for a while and received psychological treatment. But finally she returned to Halifax and that hotbed of hardheartedness, cruelty, lust, and revenge that is known as Cole Harbour District High School. And that proved too much for her.

Making a Jungle

What strikes me in this case is that there is not a single sensible adult in sight. Everyone is calling for "the law" and "school programs"—the dogmatic arm of the law—to "do something," anything, to keep such tragedies from occurring. We're to blame, apparently, because the boys haven't learned to respect women, says Marilyn More, the provincial minister in charge of women's issues. And yet these boys have been drilled in the feminist dogmata since kindergarten. They've also been taught, since they were still singing boy soprano, that sex is for recreation, so long as you top off the banana split with a dollop of "responsibility," a feint towards niceness, having nothing to do with marrying and having children, or, perish the thought, obeying the law of God.

In other words, these are the monsters you have raised, Ms. More. You have made a jungle, and are surprised to find brutes in it. The far-left premier of Nova Scotia, Darrell Dexter, wants to make it illegal for somebody to post an "intimate" photograph without permission, even if, he says, the person consented to the photo in the first place. Sure, whatever. Might that include, Mr. Dexter, a photo of a politician caught in flagrante delicto?

Jane's mother wishes to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to see to it that no girl (or boy, presumably) will have to suffer what her daughter suffered. How this can happen by legal mechanism, applied from Ottawa, two thousand miles away, is not clear. Ms. Smith did not address her own failure, which was much closer to home. She and Jane's father do not share the same name or the same house. It's hard to ferret out from the Halifax Chronicle Herald whether they were divorced or never married at all, which is no surprise, since feminist-a-go-go Canada no longer bothers to keep statistics on divorce. In either case, Jane, tattooed and tongue-pierced, regular partygoer and living the heartless and dissipated life held up as a model for pleasure-seeking Canadian youth, never learned about the interrelationships between love, modesty, holiness, sex, the beauty and indissolubility of marriage, and the raising of children.

Not one account I've read expresses dismay that there was such a party, at which people—for does their age really matter? does depravity, like wine, grow fine with age?—were doing such things.

Anthony Esolen is the author of over thirty books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (, on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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